An Oklahoma high school junior could face discipline for something he said about a classmate off campus, while at work, KWTV reports.
According to Dalton Fleenor’s mother, her son told another student “What he did was a p---- thing to do,” referring to a fellow classmate. The next day at school, the classmate in question punched Fleenor twice in the back of the head. Now both students face suspension, as Newcastle High School is treating the incident as a case of bullying.
"I find it unfair to punish someone for something they did out of school," Fleenor told KWTV.
His mother echoed this sentiment, telling the station that she and her husband, as parents, have the right to punish their son, but the school has no jurisdiction over something that happens at home or work.
While anti-bullying laws in Oklahoma do compel school districts to be proactive in combatting bullying, they are vague and do not specify punishment for students, according to district superintendent Tony O’Brien. Rather, each district is responsible for drafting its own anti-bullying policies.
Last year, Department of Education officials said that schools could face legal action if they do not address out-of-school harassment and are later found to have “reasonably should have known” about a student’s conduct.
A bill in the Indiana state legislature would allow schools to punish students for off-campus activities. House Bill 1169 would permit schools to suspend or expel students for engaging in activities away from school and after hours that "may reasonably be considered to be an interference with school purposes or an educational function."
Under existing state law, schools can seek punitive measures if students engage in "unlawful activity" that interferes with schools or education functions. But HB 1169, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Eric Koch, strikes the term "unlawful," allowing for punishment of any off-campus activity deemed to be an interference.